The Message of the Cross

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.   (1 Cor. 1:18)

His name was Linwood.  He was the part-time janitor at the country church where I once served.

As the church grew, Linwood had a hard time keeping up.  Every few months I had to talk with him about falling behind on his duties.  He would reassure me that he would get everything done.  Sometimes he did.  Sometimes he didn’t.

One Sunday the church was a mess when I arrived.  The garbage was overflowing. The bathrooms didn’t have paper supplies. The sanctuary hadn’t been vacuumed. As I scrambled to pull things together, I decided Linwood needed to go.  Instead of doing the deed myself, I asked an elder to do it.

I immediately regretted having someone else speak to Linwood.  I tried to justify how I had handled things, but my rationalizations were lame.

My regret stayed with me for the next year, until Good Friday.  During the service, as I looked at Linwood and his family, I knew I needed to apologize to him that day. I also knew that unless I asked for his forgiveness, I couldn’t do the next service with integrity.

At the end of the service, I ran after Linwood to the parking lot.  I said, “Linwood, I need to apologize to you.  I was the one who needed to end our working relationship.  You deserved more from me.  So did your family.  From the bottom of my heart, I ask for your forgiveness.”

With quiet dignity, Linwood said, “Father, I forgave you a long time ago. I don’t have anything against you. I don’t want you to have anything against yourself.  Isn’t that what this day is all about?”

If you have some people to whom you need to make amends—like I did with Linwood—I encourage you to do so.  Not later. Now.

Linwood was so gracious to me because he knew what the message of the cross is all about.  As we are reconciled to God through Jesus, so Jesus commands us to be reconciled to each other.  As Linwood so clearly said about Good Friday:  “Isn’t that what this day is all about?”

Reflection Questions:

  1. Do you have a Linwood in your life? That is, someone you need to apologize to, make amends with? If so, why are you waiting?
  1. From the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”Because of the cross, Jesus says, “Forgive each other.”  Are you doing so?
  1. While I was apologizing to Linwood, his family was behind him crying. When we make peace with one, we often make peace with many. Is there a family, a group, an organization for you to make peace with?  If so, when are you going to do it?

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